Confused about beef cuts – you are not alone.
I have been following Amanda Radkes recent posts about the re-naming of beef and pork cuts as a way to help the consumer make better choices and enhance their beef/pork experience. After reading her posts and glancing at some comments I think we are missing the forest for the trees. I don’t think the confusion stems from the name of retail cuts– I believe it is in the use. To sum it up – we as consumers don’t cook anymore.
New names are not going to help at the meat counter. I believe the only way to change people’s eating experience and the way people buy meat products is going to have to start in the kitchen.
The way we eat plays a big part in our food ignorance. Today we need it now and in three easy steps. I am no exception to this norm and when I moved out for college I had to do something I had never done before – buy meat from the store. What a culture shock!
I was not alone and some of my other off-the farm friends also struggled with the meat counter. I came across cuts I’d never heard of like ‘hanger steak’. I didn’t buy it because I didn’t know how to use it. Yeah I guess I could have goggled it. In all reality who is going to stand in the grocery aisle on their smart phone and read up on the many uses of ‘hanger steak’.
No surprise as the naming study discovered I stuck with cuts I knew. I didn’t buy ‘hanger steak’. I stuck with thrifty cuts that were within my college budget. I am very fortunate that I know how to home butcher and could buy whole pork tenderloin (when on sale) and cut up butterfly chops, and roasts. I even had friends over one night (per their request) and showed them how to cut up a whole chicken (which is less expensive than buying precut chicken parts.) But there again those are skills I learned at home in the kitchen with my mom. I went a step further in college and enrolled in a meat science class and learned more about meat and retail cuts.
That class demonstrated in great detail the transition from raw agricultural product to consumer friendly product. A.k.a pasture to plate. How that product is prepared for that plate will affect the consumers experience and opinion. Which brings me to my last thought…
I am a big supporter of ag education – however I never learned to cook a steak in an ag class. There is a huge need for “domestic” (for lack of a better word) literacy. What happened to Home Economics (FCCLA) classes in school? Where are those kitchens and teachers that thought us to bake, sew a button and other life skills?
I would like to see some of these ag groups put money into school programs that teach kids and adults how to cook. Not only would that improve eating experiences but could it also help with America’s weight problem? Fresh produce and meat can be intimidating to use if you never have! Teach them how to cook healthy and prepare food correctly and we will feed them for a lifetime!